Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Current Knoxville Horror Judge Won't Unseal Judge Mischief’s TBI File; Basis of Retrial Decisions, However, Will be Public


KNS: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood denies the News Sentinel's request to unseal records involving former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner Tuesday in Knox County Criminal Court. Blackwood said there are "innocent people" who would be hurt by the disclosure of the entirety of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigative file, which he said contains unsupported allegations unrelated to Baumgartner's confessed misconduct. (J. MILES CARY/NEWS SENTINEL )

<[N.S.: Knoxville News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy is attempting to get the Tennessee Bureau of Information file of disgraced, disbarred, former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner, or as I call him, Judge Mischief, opened, based on what McElroy claims is “the public's need to know what's going on in this case.”

Jack McElroy doesn’t give a good goldarn about “the public’s need to know.” He has repeatedly lied about the crime’s racial character, pressured reporters and victims’ family members alike, to go along with his little charade, and smeared all those who refused to go along with his charade as "white supremacists.]

Judge won't unseal ex-judge's TBI file; basis of retrial decisions, however, will be public
Basis of retrial decisions, however, will be public
By Jamie Satterfield
Knoxville News Sentinel
November 22, 2011 at 2:28 p.m., updated November 22, 2011 at 7:07 p.m.

The truth will be ugly, but it won't be hidden.

Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood made that vow Tuesday as he shut down as "premature" the News Sentinel's effort to expose information the defenders of four suspects in one of Knoxville's most horrific crimes are relying on to try to win their clients new trials.

"The public is going to know everything this court relies upon in making its determination," Blackwood said. "I can tell you right now it's not going to be pretty, and it's going to be the worst day of my life but it's not going to be hidden from the public."

Blackwood is set next week to decide if defendants in the January 2007 torture slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, should be awarded new trials in the wake of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe that revealed the judge presiding over those trials — former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner — was a pill addict who bought hundreds of prescription painkillers from a felon under his legal thumb.

The basis for their motions for new trial remains a mystery, however, because neither the TBI investigative file nor the defendants' respective pleadings have been made a part of the public record in the case.

[N.S.: The “basis” is no mystery; there is no basis. Nothing mysterious about nothing.]

News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy earlier this month sought the disclosure of those records, arguing the public has a right to know what information is driving the push for new trials in what is one of the most expensive cases for taxpayers in Knox County history.

[Not one of, but the most expensive case for taxpayers in Knox County history. And Jack McElroy is doing everything in his power to ratchet up the cost.]

At a hearing Tuesday, News Sentinel attorney Richard Hollow argued disclosure of the TBI file and related motions poses a harm to no one but Baumgartner, who already has pleaded guilty to official misconduct and agreed to be disbarred.

Judge Richard Baumgarner presiding over the sentencing of racist Knoxville Horror carjacker-kidnapper-rapist-murderer, Letalvis Cobbins

"What is the injury to the citizens of Tennessee that would result from disclosure?" Hollow asked. "The defendants have all been tried. [But you’re trying to get them retried, you jackwagon! Otherwise, why would you care?] There is no jury here and no jury pool to be tainted by the contents of this file. [Nonsense; you’re trying to taint the jury of the retrial you’re shooting for. And if you get the files opened, you’re darned sure going to demand that they be entered into the record … or else published in the Sentinel.] Your honor is aware of what's in the file as are all counsel. I have no personal desire whatsoever to embarrass Judge Baumgartner [Not much, you don’t. Or is it simply a professional desire you have?] but what we have here is, your honor, an issue of public trust. We didn't create that."

Baumgartner wasn't present at Tuesday's hearing but he had at least two attorneys sitting in the courtroom to monitor the proceedings.

Prosecutors Leland Price and TaKisha Fitzgerald, who are fighting the move for new trials by defendants Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, remained silent on the News Sentinel's request.

Thomas' attorneys, Tom Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson, fought the newspaper's bid, arguing their client's position would be made clear — and public — at a Dec. 1 hearing set in the case.

"We're going to have a very public hearing," Johnson said in arguing the newspaper was jumping the legal gun.

Davidson's lead attorney, David Eldridge, called flawed Hollow's claim of no-harm, no-foul to anyone but Baumgartner by public disclosure of the records at issue.

"There are private interests at stake by individuals who are not defendants," Eldridge said, although he did not elaborate beyond citing "witnesses" interviewed by the TBI.

"There's information in (the TBI file) that has no bearing on" the outcome of the Christian/Newsom case, he said.

Blackwood agreed, saying the TBI file has loads of unsubstantiated claims unrelated to Baumgartner's actual crime of misconduct. He likened much of the file's contents to tales of "Puff the Magic Dragon."

He didn't elaborate, and the public has no way to know just who those "innocent people" are and what the TBI probe shows about them. Blackwood made it clear the public likely will never know.

"That information is not getting out," Blackwood declared.

Although he lost his motion, McElroy said he believes the judge will be more mindful of the need for public disclosure as the case moves forward.

"I was very happy to hear Judge Blackwood commit to making public all the material from the TBI file that defense attorneys submit (at the) Dec. 1 (hearing)," McElroy said. [Judge Blackwood did no such thing!] "If that happens, I believe the public's need to know what's going on in this case will be met."

[Thanks to my legman, David in TN.]

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